Foreign and local journalists are worried over the spate of media killings in the Philippines, which now ranks second to Iraq in the highest number of murdered journalists.
The Confederation of Asean Journalists (CAJ), headed by its permanent secretary Akhmad Kusaeni of Indonesia, said facts paint an ugly picture of the Philippine government’s lack of political will to find a lasting solution to the problem of media killings in the country.
Akhmad added that the high incidence of media murders in the country is aggravated by allegedly half-baked efforts of law enforcement agencies, particularly the Philippine National Police (PNP) headed by Director General Alan Purisima, to run after perpetrators and the brains behind these attacks.
He said the PNP, being at the first level of investigation, is expected to track down suspects and to diligently build up cases against them.
The journalists said the PNP failed to do both jobs.
They cited instances where suspects also allegedly were released from detention due to mere technicality.
Worse, Akhmad said, the lack of urgency or seriousness in investigation of these cases has resulted in zero conviction.
The CAJ said it welcomes the concern expressed by United States Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg over the growing number of media killings in the country.
The US envoy said he was “troubled by continued acts of violence committed against journalists.”
Aside from being the second most dangerous country for journalists, the Philippines also has the “third worst record for bringing killers of media practitioners to justice,” according to Goldberg.
Such statements, especially coming from an official of another country, should rouse the Aquino administration from deep slumber and save itself from international humiliation, the CAJ said.
“It is with deep grief and alarm to note that so many journalists are being killed in the Philippines–93 since 2004 as reported by the global media watchdog, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)–despite the absence of widespread civil strife and armed civil disturbances as compared to other countries in the CPJ Index,” the group added.
According to reports, at least 25 journalists have been murdered since Benigno Aquino III became President more than three years ago on the platform of good governance and democratic rule and the rule of law.
Recently, Richard Nadjib, the manager of a local radio station in Tawi-Tawi province in southern Philippines, was killed.
The 25 deaths translate to about one journalist killed every two months in the first three years of the Aquino administration.
Nadjib was killed less than a month after Remate reporter Rubylita “Rubie” Garcia was murdered on April 6, 2014 right inside her house in Cavite province.